Tributes pour in for UK singer, TV star Cilla Black

The China Post - - ARTS - BY ALICE RITCHIE

The world of showbiz was in mourn­ing Sun­day for Cilla Black af­ter the death at 72 of the 1960s pop star, who was cham­pi­oned by The Bea­tles and later be­came one of the UK’s best-loved tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ters.

Black’s pub­li­cist con­firmed her death in a brief state­ment. Media re­ports cit­ing lo­cal po­lice said she passed away at her home in Estepona near Mar­bella in south­ern Spain.

Warm, kind and full of laughs, the work­ing-class red­head from Liver­pool — known na­tion­wide sim­ply as “Cilla” — was a fix­ture on Bri­tish TV screens for more than 50 years.

Born Priscilla White, she started out work­ing in the cloak­room at the Cav­ern club, where The Bea­tles were first spot­ted, be­fore tak­ing to the stage her­self.

The band cham­pi­oned Black and in­tro­duced her to their man­ager Brian Ep­stein, who signed her.

For­mer Bea­tle Paul McCart­ney called Black a “lovely girl who in­fected ev­ery­one with her great spirit” and called it “a priv­i­lege to know and love her.”

Bea­tles drum­mer Ringo

Starr wrote on Twit­ter “she was a good friend we will all miss her.”

Black re­leased her first sin­gle in 1963 and the fol­low­ing year had two Num­ber One hits, “You’re My World” and “Any­one Who Had a Heart.” She went on to re­lease 14 al­bums.

In 1968, she be­gan host­ing her own tele­vi­sion talk show, be­gin­ning a broad­cast­ing ca­reer that saw her present some of the UK’s most pop­u­lar pro­grams over half a cen­tury.

These i ncluded “Sur­prise Sur­prise,” a show that in­volved sur­pris­ing mem­bers of the public with long-lost loved ones or ful­fill­ing long-held dreams.

Another hit was “Blind Date,” a match-mak­ing show where she would in­ter­view each can­di­date with the catch­phrase “What’s your name and where do you come from?”

Singer Cliff Richard said he would “miss her dearly,” adding: “I will al­ways think of her as out­ra­geous, funny, in­cred­i­bly gifted but above all full of heart.

“She was a very spe­cial per­son, and I have lost a very won­der­ful friend.”

Ac­tress Joan Collins de­scribed her as a “re­splen­dent and rare tal­ent,” while Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Rus­sell Crowe said on Twit­ter: “Thanks for ev­ery­thing Cilla.”

‘Child­hood idol’

In an emailed state­ment, her pub­li­cist Nick Fiveash con­firmed “with deep sor­row” that Black had died.

“De­tails of her death will be an­nounced fol­low­ing the coro­ner’s re­port,” the state­ment said. “Her fam­ily have asked for their pri­vacy to be re­spected at this time.”

A spokesman for Span­ish po­lice said ev­ery­thing pointed to Black hav­ing died of nat­u­ral causes, the Daily Tele­graph and Daily Mir­ror news­pa­pers re­ported.

Black was made an OBE (Of­fi­cer of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire) in 1997 and last year was given a spe­cial award from the Bri­tish Academy of Film and Tele­vi­sion Arts (BAFTA), which called her an “icon.”

In its ci­ta­tion, BAFTA said she had hosted more than 500 tele­vi­sion shows and made around 400 guest ap­pear­ances on oth­ers, regularly draw­ing au­di­ences of 18 mil­lion peo­ple.

Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron said his thoughts were with her fam­ily and praised her “huge tal­ent,” say­ing she “made a sig­nifi- cant con­tri­bu­tion to public life in Bri­tain.”

Scot­land’s First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon de­scribed her as “one of my child­hood idols.”

“My ear­li­est mem­ory of hav­ing a tantrum was over Cilla. I wanted her al­bum. My mum and dad said no — my grandad said yes. I was 4,” the Scot­tish na­tion­al­ist leader said.

Black had three sons as well as a daugh­ter, who died in in­fancy, with her late hus­band and man­ager Bobby Wil­lis. He died of liver and lung can­cer in 1999.

AP

(Left) In this June 2, 2009 file photo, Bri­tish TV pre­sen­ter Cilla Black ar­rives for the open­ing night of the mu­si­cal “Sis­ter Act” at the Pal­la­dium Theatre in Lon­don. (Right) In this Jan. 4, 1969 file photo, pop singer Black smiles with her fiance Bobby Wil­lis in May­fair, Lon­don.

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